Friends are very forgiving about small garden imperfections (that’s why they’re friends!) but this year, we’ve got A Big Wedding Anniversary coming up in the extended family and everyone’s keen on making the party an outdoor event. We’ll want the place to look its very best for the occasion — but re-designing the landscape completely is out of the question!

So I’ve been going back through some earlier garden-related posts of mine, seeking inspiration, and remembering my Aunt Virgie’s old tried-and-true methods of getting a show-stopping yard and garden without actually going to a lot of trouble or expense.

pretty flower garden border bed

5 Ways To Fake A Show-Off Garden

(with thanks to my frugal and green-thumbed Aunt Virgie)

1. Planter Magic

plants in potsNeed some colour? Group a few containers of lush flowering annuals wherever your borders look tired or dull. Keep your planters in the one single family of materials for unity — if you do terracotta for one, do terra cotta for all — but do mix up the heights and sizes of the pots to increase the interest.

2. Weed Wisdom

If you don’t have the time to weed all your borders before a big garden party or flower-loving in-laws are expected, concentrate your efforts on tidying up the front six or eight inches of each bed. A clean edge gives such a good impression, no one will notice a stray weed among the back-of-border specimens.

If time permits, do crisp up the meeting of soil and turf grass with an edger or straight-edged spade. And if your budget permits (which mine never does, oddly enough), consider a layer of decorative mulch.

3. Artful Dodges

garden art- reflective mosaic gazing ballLocate the lawn art with care. A piece of garden sculpture or a wind-driven whirly-gig can do a lot to dress up a garden, if chosen well, but it will draw the eye to whatever you place it near. If your roses are overblown and going brown at the edges, for example, move those garden gnomes out of the rose garden and over to the late-season lilies or whatever else is looking its best at the time.

4. Put It In Perspective

In general, concentrate your major tidying-up efforts for the areas of garden that are closest to the house or outdoor seating area. Distance, when it comes to viewing a garden, can hide a multitude of flaws!

If the view form your patio leaves something to be desired, despite your best efforts, you can make the patio itself the centre of interest. Go for bright cushions on lawn furniture, a pretty table setting, groups of potted plants at the edges of the seating area, maybe a shade umbrella or two for a festive air… This is a great place for a stunningly original piece of garden sculpture, unusual windchimes, decorative pavers, all the small close-up touches that will draw the eye away from a less attractive vista.

5. Cosmetic Measures

vine on trellisEvery yard and garden, like every house, is likely to have some bits and pieces lying around that you yourself don’t even see any more because you’re so used to them.

Try to look at your place with an outsider’s eye — the way that real estate people tell you to do when “set dressing” your home for a prospective buyer to view:

  • Pick up the kids’ toys (and, of course, the dog’s droppings!).
  • Tuck away your garbage cans, garden tools, water hose, and other work-a-day necessities in a garage or garden shed, out of sight. If you don’t have a building in which to hide your tools, a good-looking large deck box will do the trick — and it can double as outdoor seating, too.
  • Remove or replace any outdoor furniture or garden ornaments that are showing age and wear, or just plain getting shabby.
  • Seed quick-growing annual vines like Morning Glory to clamber up a network of well-placed plant sticks and screen the compost pile (or use one of the many tidy compost bins on the market).
  • Consider some flower-filled windowboxes or a new coat of paint to perk up an old garden shed.

birdbath made from terracotta potsOf course, if your nearest neighbour is stockpiling old rusty automobiles in his yard, that’s another thing.

Pick an attractive point in the middle distance — in your own yard — and focus the attention there, perhaps with a show-stopping floral display (in containers, if you must) or a busy bird-feeding station.

In your long term plan, consider a free-standing trellis, overhung with vigorous grapevines or fast-growing Virginia creeper, to screen the unpleasant view. A solid privacy fence can do more than block a sight line, so think twice before installing one: there’s a chance it could block out a welcome cooling breeze, or even make your yard or garden seem smaller.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Mark Montgomery

    I love everything about gardening, growing plants and learning all I can about organic gardening and all the garden accessories that are out there. Keep up the great work on this blog and I look forward to visiting again. Have a great day

  2. domestika

    Alex, LOL I totally deserved that for telling you not to take the weekend off from that excellent program of personal improvement! Hey, tell you what, how about me BEING the queen of quick-and-dirty fixes? I could do that!

    Melissa, thanks for dropping by. Sounds like you’ve got a full program for when the little green things start poking up through the ground! My veggie garden is going to need some serious work – “faking” is all very well for those emergency situations, but it won’t grow us any beans!

  3. Alex Shalman

    You know, being outstanding is about BEING, not ACTING… so HAVE a showoff garden, don’t FAKE a showoff garden. (that is revenge ;) )

  4. Melissa R. Garrett

    I agree – great tips! I am really looking forward to this awful snow melting and never coming back. I’ve got four flower gardens and a large veggie garden that are just screaming for attention. Warm weather and sunshine – hurry up, already!

  5. domestika

    So glad you liked it, Dariana. Have you read bussogardener, who was kind enough to write about this post of mine? He’s got oodles of good garden tips, and is very funny on the subject of garden gnomes!

  6. DariDonovan

    Fantastic ideas and info. Thanks for sharing!

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